October 2009

Witchy JMB on the right with her familiar in Neko form, Moggs Tigerpaw, wander this creepy pumpkin patch before introducing you to this year’s version of the Dunbar Haunted House. This is the third year I have written about it and the sixth year I believe for its existence.

Please click on any photo to enlarge, if you dare.

While entrance is free donations are collected for several charities and last year $29,000 were raised for these excellent causes and this year the crowds are up to 1000 per evening. Without further ado let’s get down to the photos. I think this is the scariest one I have attended so far and I am very glad I go during the daytime as costumed actors are around after 6.30pm to scare the living daylights out of the visitors.

One of three larger than life figures which grace the normally charming front garden

Much of this year’s display is in the dark, but a photo with flash
gives some idea of detail


Welcome to Klown Alley says the Headless Chicken

Colourful if gruesome

Moving right along into the Torture Section
or Man’s inhumanity towards Man

Ghoulish Gardeners in the Cornfield

Delicious and Mine, mine, mine

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise

The Graveyard coming to life, sort of.

Typical homeschooling family

Red, my favourite colour!

A glimpse into the Future?

A true creature of the night

Please don’t feed the Zombies, they have
a very special diet

Please read these instructions and
follow them carefully

It might be Halloween but Christmas is just
around the corner

Santa’s Little Helper, so happy in his work

Rudolph looks a little peeved this year

And so ends my annual visit to the Dunbar Haunted House. This year the owners have outdone themselves and the number of visitors shows how popular this event has become. They even have their own Facebook Page.

Below is a slide show from YouTube put together by one of the people who work at the house as a “spook” and taken at night for a different view if you are so inclined.



Tomorrow is Halloween and I thought I would tie this theme to Halloween although tomorrow I will post my annual visit to the local Dunbar haunted house as usual. So what do you think Santa will have in his bags this year for all the good little boys and girls? Mmm.

Scene from the local much-visited Haunted House
click to enlarge either photo

Those are some really ugly gifts in Santa’s bags


Moggs, our intrepid reporter, doesn’t get to have all the musical fun you know! Although my musical evening was with a much different crowd from hers.

It was a dinner and private musical performance put on for the clients of a local financial management firm at, of all places, the local River Rock Casino Resort. A cocktail reception and a very nice dinner preceded the musical part of the evening, all taking place in the resort’s dinner theatre venue.

Michael Kaeshammer, the young man to the left, a very talented pianist and singer, entertained us with his special brand of keyboard wizardry playing jazz and boogie woogie. He was totally mesmerizing as he along with bass player Mark Rogers and drummer Mark McLean put together a great performance for the very appreciative audience.

Michael was born in Germany and studied classical piano before discovering boogie woogie and jazz at age 13. Within several years he was touring across Germany playing in clubs and at concerts and festivals. Moving with his family to Canada he soon established himself as a performer at jazz and blues festivals. His career has grown over the past ten years and this gifted young pianist entertains audiences around the globe.

Here is a youTube offering if you are so inclined you can hear Michael and the two Marks yourself and appreciate what great performers they are.

One thing about Second Life is there are more girls than boys, or at least in the parts I hang out in. I guess they are all in the combat sims or Gor. So anyway my experience of SL is there are more girls than boys.

I found myself in a Real Life situation with a very similar balance the other day.

I am not being high brow when I ask you to think of ballet.

The dictionary defines it as:

Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Italian balletto, diminutive of ballo dance, from ballare
Date: 1634
A theatrical art form using dancing, music, and scenery to convey a story, theme, or atmosphere b: dancing in which conventional poses and steps are combined with light flowing figures (as leaps and turns)

Now a second definition… and I think you might get an idea of where I am going here…

Function: noun
a district of Berlin, in E Germany: site of prison for Nazi war criminals.

Put them together and you get something else entirely… Spandau Ballet. A new romantic band.

Handsome Tony Hadley the lead singer.
Gary Kemp, of movie fame on guitar and doing backing vocals.
Lovely Martin Kemp also of movie and tv fame on bass guitar.
Sexy Steve Norman on sax, guitar and percussion.
John Keeble on drums and backing vocals.

The other evening found me at the O2 Arena among thronging crowds, a significant proportion of whom were female which kind of brings us back to where I started ^_^.

Not all of ‘a certain age’ either, clearly there were daughters amongst the good natured and cheerful crowds too.

The Dome kind or reminds me of a Vegas hotel, with all the fake buildings inside it, except practically all of them seem to be restaurants, it just needs a fake sky. Or maybe it doesn’t cos it feels more like being out at night when it is dark. Not that perpetual twilight you get in Vegas.

Anyway… We had a meal and found our way to our seats. We had good seats. The atmosphere was expectant and charged with whatever the opposite of testosterone is. Estrogen?

When the band came on it turned out to be well worth the wait. They are so very good at doing live.

Brilliant in fact. As good as their recorded tracks… better maybe, more alive.

As for Tony Hadley his voice is just as wonderful as ever, and so very powerful.

Steve Norman was awesome on the saxophone. He made it sound like it was alive, sends shivers up your spine.

They gave us what we wanted. The old favorites we sang loudly along with and some new tracks they have done. The new album is “Once More”.

The boys? Well they are men now, and to my mind improved for it. They still have ‘it’. But they have maturity too. I don’t think it is the perspective of maturity like I said, there were quite a few late teens early 20s there.

There were some girls, young women, behind us. They screamed so hard I worried they would wet themselves, or it might damage my ears. I wonder if they could even speak afterwards. People were on their feet dancing. Applause was deafening. I made myself hoarse singing.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, Duh! Sooo of course. What did they finish with? Gold of course.


You know how suddenly a light bulb goes on in your head and you say of course, that is so obvious. Why did I not think of that before? Such a moment occurred for me with this theme and I did not even have the Eureka moment when looking through the archives. This time I knew exactly where to go.

I’m sure you all remember macramé, the art of making fabric by tying knots and along with many others I practised this craft in the seventies. I can’t believe I actually had the patience or the interest to make those ridiculous plant hangers and necklaces and belts. Of course I made the ubiquitous owl hanging from a stick which adorned my son’s bedroom for years although he did balk at taking it with him when he left.

All these items are long gone except this one which is still in my living room. I covered the bottle totally with macramé, including the bottom, and I am unable to discard this as a reminder of those days. Besides it is not too unattractive, is it? Maybe in another few years it will become a collector’s piece, or not, she says laughingly. Click for a very detailed view, possibly ever so slightly out of focus?


Superheroes JMB (on the left) and Zaz in Action

Today, for the second time, I am about to meet in Real Life someone who has become a friend in Second Life, albeit this is a different SL friend from the one I had lunch with on a previous occasion.

Anyone who is reading this understands how one can become very connected to virtual strangers, even become online friends with them, through blogging. Somehow that seems even easier in Second Life, with the back and forth of instant messaging and the exchange of ideas and sometimes even more personal observations and conversations. I have met a few bloggers in person on previous occasions and funnily enough when Lady Mac came here to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference where she and I met, Zaz, my SL friend, was also in attendance, unbeknownst to me.

I did not know her at that time but she has been a fairly regular participant at the SIWC in recent years and this year I will pick her up at the airport and take her to the conference hotel and later we will meet another SL friend for dinner.

This past weekend JMB the fairy met up with Zaz the vampire over a glass of wine to discuss the arrangements. Of course we will be more conventionally dressed when we meet up in Real Life.

However Second Life is a place where you can live out your fantasies if you wish. Both of us are pretty pragmatic people I think, not into role play, although we do take the opportunity to dress the part on occasion as you can see above. We both acquired this Superhero freebie outfit and got together for a photo opportunity, Superheroes in Action. I suppose it does lose some of its punch due to our Fairy entourage but then this is Second Life where anything is possible and “saving the world” accompanied by these cuties is a fairly ordinary concept compared to some. Click to enlarge either photo and get the full punch.

I’ll let you know how it goes later.

It’s quite a while since I’ve done a book review but I could not resist writing about this one. It was the last book we read for the Short Book Club and while it has been around for a while all but one of us had missed it. Probably the name was a bit off-putting! But one member’s recommendation was so enthusiastic that we chose it for our seventh anniversary meeting.
Yes, seven years ago in the Fall, we met for dinner at our convener’s house for the first time and recently every single one of us were there for this meeting, although we had no idea until that night that it was our seven year anniversary.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society*
by Mary Ann Shaffer is an epistolary novel, one written in the form of letters. While not much in favour these days, it seems just the right format for this delightful novel, although it can be a bit confusing at times since there are many letter writers contributing to the whole.

Set in 1946, in the days just after the Second World War, the book commences as Juliet Ashton, a thirtyish author, writes to her publisher bemoaning her lack of ideas for a new book and also wanting to write about something completely different. She receives a letter from a farmer on Guernsey with a query and an exchange of letters begins. He tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a rudimentary sort of book club and describes how the whole thing began during the German occupation of that island. Other members of the society begin to correspond with her, narrating their wartime stories and the idea for a new book is born.

Through these letters the reader not only gets to know the various characters and “characters ” they really are, but also the realities of the German occupation are revealed little by little. Of course Juliet must go to Guernsey to meet these people and thus we see them first hand in her letters to others. To my mind, their stories, along with her own, are carefully interwoven most successfully using this format and revealed little by little. While being quite informative the whole book has a very delightful, warm charming feeling, despite the often depressing reality of the years of the occupation and the post war situation. This book delivers a touch of romance, some sadness and some humour, along with a lot of information and a satisfying conclusion. What more can one ask of a novel read for entertainment?

I am sure that most everyone has already read this book, but if not I can highly recommend it and my copy has already been passed on.

* Annie Barrows, Mary Ann Shaffer’s niece completed the book after the author’s death.

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